by Kevin Stott | It couldn’t have happened at a better, or maybe a worse time: A slight crack in the front left hoof of Triple Crown contender Big Brown.
The injury, detected by trainer Rick Dutrow, Jr. on Friday, forced him to summon the help of hoof specialist Ian McKinlay to treat the five-eighths of an inch crack on the inside heel of the three-year-old colt’s left front hoof. McKinlay treated the cracked hoof with an alcohol and iodine solution this morning (Sunday).
Dutrow is downplaying the injury, saying, "If it was two weeks (layoff between Preakness Stakes and Belmont Stakes) we would be nervous, but since we have an extra week I’m cool as we can be. It’s bad that this happened, but it is good that it happened at this time."
The trainer said he expects Big Brown – who has missed the last two days of training at Belmont Park – to return to the track on Thursday if all goes well.
"The worst case is he doesn’t make the race," Dutrow said. "The horse is in great shape. He doesn’t know anything is wrong with him. When you touch it and put pressure on it, he’s going to give. But the worst possible thing that could happen is he doesn’t make the race, and that will only hurt human beings. Not him. He’s laying back, not worried about anything."
McKinlay thinks the crack is nothing to worry about.
"This is a very, very minor crack," he said. "We will put a set of wires in, stitch it up and then patch it."